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The majority of enterprises are ready to join the cloud native development movement. But some stubborn obstacles—such as resistance to cultural change, complexity, and skills shortages—continue to stand in their way.
I recently sat down for a conversation with Bob Quillin, Vice President of Developer Relations at Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, to talk about Oracle’s cloud native direction. We discussed cloud vendor lock-in and other difficulties enterprises face when moving to cloud. We also talked about creating a sustainable, open standards-based strategy to overcome the challenges to cloud adoption.
Listen to our entire conversation here, and read a condensed version following.
How does Oracle Cloud Infrastructure support concepts like serverless programming and cloud native development?
Quillin: Oracle last year started the Fn Project. Fn is an open source, container-native, serverless platform. It's one of the first serverless solutions that lets you run serverless applications basically anywhere, whether that's in the cloud or on-premises, or both. It supports any programming language, and it's very extensible. It was developed by the serverless group from Iron.io that was hired into Oracle a couple of years ago. Instead of creating a proprietary service, what we did was build out the Fn Project over the last year. Contributors have been adding in new features to build out the platform. For example, there's a new Cloud Events project that came out recently and is being hosted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) as a sandbox project. It focuses on how events and serverless functions work together. We're one of the early adopters of that.
What else can customers expect from the Fn Project?
Quillin: One thing we just rolled out at the KubeCon conference in Seattle is a product that's based on the Fn Project called Oracle Functions. It's a fully managed, scalable, on-demand, functions-as-a-service (FaaS) platform that runs on top of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. It's all based on the Fn engine. It's a very unique service in that regard in that you can still use the Fn Project capabilities on your laptop, or on any other cloud, for example. But if you want a managed service—like an AWS Lambda but better—we are offering Oracle Functions. But unlike Lambda, Oracle Functions is an open solution and won't lock you in with proprietary APIs. You can run anything you develop on Oracle Functions anywhere else with the Fn Project. So, it's really an environment for deploying and executing any functions-based application, and there's no need to manage the infrastructure. While there are servers underneath it all that Oracle manages for you—it isn't truly “serverless” as people say—you don't have to worry about the servers.
That's one of the huge benefits because it makes deploying managed functions simple. It's DevOps friendly and Docker-based, so each function and serverless component is a container. Thus, it's a truly container-native approach. You can actually deploy it using your favorite container management solution. In particular, it works very well with Kubernetes, but also other types of container platforms, too. In terms of serverless products, almost all other solutions that are out there are all proprietary.
But it's always tough to teach an old dog some new tricks. What major challenges are traditional enterprises facing as they try to become successful as cloud native companies?
Quillin: That's a good question. The CNCF did a survey a couple of months ago asking about the big challenges that organizations are facing with container technology. The top three challenges were cultural change for developers, complexity, and lack of training. We've made some amazing progress as an industry, particularly over this last year and a half. But many developers and teams still feel left behind. As the culture changes and as we push DevOps forward, they're looking for ways to connect into those technologies that use these new technologies. But they're also responsible for maintaining and using existing platforms, like WebLogic or database applications. You can't just “lift and shift” those overnight.
I've talked to CIOs at enterprises that are going through this change, and it may be easy to move a five- or ten-person team, but moving a thousand-person team or multi-thousand-person team is challenging. Then, combine that challenge with the complexity of all the open source options and all the solutions that are available to you. If your choice is to choose from 5,000 different solutions or choose between a single vendor that offers you five solutions, you're between a rock and a hard place. You're faced with either too much choice or not enough choice.
How are enterprises addressing this issue of too much choice versus not enough choice?
Quillin: Sometimes they address it by saying, "Well, I'm just going to choose one cloud. I'm going to single source it." Unfortunately, that approach has left many people locked in. What they find is that the fastest solution is not always the best solution. They started using closed APIs, proprietary services, and inch by inch, application by application, they get more and more locked in.
The whole value proposition of open source is choice and portability—being able to take an application and move it wherever is appropriate for that workload, for that geography, for your business. So, if you're going to choose open source technology, you really need to embrace that and push your vendors. As part of the selection process you should ask, "Is this going to lock me in?" What we're seeing now is that people want to go hybrid cloud or multicloud, but their single cloud vendor strategy won't let them.
Can you tell me a little bit about the Oracle Linux Cloud Native Environment?
Quillin: The Oracle Linux Cloud Native Environment is a software stack that is available on premises and runs on the cloud itself. It is a curated set of open source Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) projects that can be easily deployed, have been tested for interoperability, and for which enterprise-grade support is offered. It's included with an Oracle Linux Premier support subscription at no additional cost and is unique in that it's actually driven by true open source technologies. It uses no proprietary approaches to lock you in. If you develop on top of the Oracle Linux Cloud Native Environment, you can run that application anywhere.
We're also combining that with Oracle Cloud Infrastructure cloud native services, so now you have a really strong one-two punch. The whole solution is called the Oracle Cloud Native Framework. The Oracle Cloud Native Framework consists of the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure cloud native services, which includes Kubernetes, the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Registry, and a whole set of new observability and application definition, development, and provisioning technologies delivered as managed services right on top of our Generation 2 cloud.
How does this help those enterprises that are struggling to go cloud native?
Quillin: We've talked about the teams who are being left behind by complexity and cultural changes in the push to cloud. The Oracle Cloud Native Framework provides a pattern, a model by which these teams can easily move applications back and forth on-premises to cloud and back—and it's a sustainable strategy. If teams lack the training or complexity is slowing down adoption, the services in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure are offered as managed cloud services.
For example, many—if not most—development teams did not become experts in managing Kubernetes or deploying Docker in the last two years. These teams can go directly into a managed cloud environment where all of that complexity is managed for you. You don't actually have to become a Kubernetes expert. You can just run the application and understand how you need to build the application to run on top of it. Plus, you don't have to run the underlying infrastructure, the clusters, the cluster management, and all of the tools and techniques that go along with that. The Oracle Cloud Native Framework is providing a truly inclusive, sustainable strategy for these developers, and it's all based on open CNCF technologies.Learn more about the Oracle Cloud Native Framework today.